Friday, July 6, 2007

Freight Train

This classic concept book, published in 1978, still works every time I read it (which is at least once a night). Donald Crews' bright, simple and artistic book is a surefire hit with little boys (and anyone else who is obsessed with trains). It has a rhythmic easy-to-read text and the illustrations are wonderful... he makes the reader feel as if they are really watching the train go by. My favorite pages are the last three: "Moving in darkness, Moving in daylight. Going, Going.... gone." It's one of the few concept books (not including alphabet books) that has received a Caldecott Honor. I like the hardcover and paperback versions the best because the pictures are nice and big... but the board book is a good option if you have a baby in your life. No illustrations were harmed to make the board book, and the text works well for babies.

If you've read the book as often as I have, you may be curious what the numbers and letters on the black tender and steam engine mean. 1978 (on the tender) refers to the year the book was published... and N & A (on the steam engine) are the initials of Donald Crews' daughters Nina and Amy.

There's a companion book (which is only published as a board book) called Inside Freight Train. You can literally pull the train cars apart and see what's inside. I like this book, but it gets damaged easily (the flaps don't pull apart that well)... and I think the original works better. But Inside Freight Train is a great choice for babies and toddlers learning about books because it's fun for them to play with.

Whichever version you find, this is a classic waiting to be discovered.

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